23 August 2016

Our lazy, fruit-filled August days...



I forgot to post a whole bunch of photos and happenings last week.  Or maybe it was the week before.  Akh.  I've hit that magic number of something - whatever it is that makes you lose your mind.  Kids, years, who knows.  

We just came back from our spot in Michigan.  Our retreat, our oasis just outside of the world.  That monastery is a piece of heaven.  They all are.  But this time, I felt that our visit was too short.  I felt that there was more that needed digesting, more than needed to be said.  But just like that, we were back on the road coming home and I was left with more questions than when I came.  Perhaps that is the way of things.  There was something different about this visit.  Something more solemn to me.  I am still mulling it over.  Digesting.  



Apple picking season starts very very soon.  Not soon enough for my little ones.  But here were are almost at the end of August.  I am not ready to say goodbye to the summer just yet.  We have a few more things that need doing.  

Today I made yogurt for the first time in months.  Definitely since baby M came things have been different, routines dropped or changed, and disorder rampant.  It's not her, bless her little heart.  She's a darling; a ray of sunshine.  Even the older ones dote on her.  It's just that life has to be rearranged with babies.  :)  But now we have yogurt.  And labneh!  Dany is very happy.  I don't usually make labneh.  I never grew up with it, so it's hard to remember to make it!  (Not like I notice it's missing until I really want it...)  



Did ever mention that I thank God for good neighbours?  Well I do!  Last week, one of our neighbours down the hall dropped off some of their extra basil, chives and blueberries.  How sweet!  The kids just devoured the berries.  I thought maybe we'd make something - a blueberry lemon loaf cake, or even a pie.  Nope and nope.  They didn't have a chance those berries.  I can't say I was upset.  Fresh fruit just belongs to summer.  We've been enjoying lots of peaches.  In fact, tomorrow we'll pick up another basket at the market.  I love summer Wednesdays. 



I have been painting these past two weeks.  It is heaven to be back at the brushes.  Of course, I have other things pulling at my time.  Namely a sweet, drooling baby who's crawling!  :) Oh those teeth.  They are cute, but bought at a price.  Sleep is the price.  :)  

On that note, I'd best be off to bed.  Who knows how many times I'll be waking up to kiss those sweet cheeks tonight.  (Actually, to be completely honest, I am not always fully awake when I "wake up" with her...)  Sweet dreams world!


5 August 2016

Reading, animals and other summer adventures

























Last time I posted I referred to the long weekend we just had as "Family Day".  Family Day is in February.  Apparently.  (And that is why I'm not in charge of anything important.)  It wasn't Family Day, just a Civic Holiday.  Oh well.  We still had our own "family day" and enjoyed it together!

Our city libraries have been on strike this summer.  Until now that is.  At last the doors are open again and we shall make our way there tomorrow to collect some new books.  The kids especially are eager to stock up on some audio books.  We've missed them.  And perhaps find out if the summer reading club will continue this year?  All good things to look forward to when you're 3 and 5 and 7.   (Baby M likes books too, but she prefers to gum them instead of read them.  We're working on that.)

























We spent an afternoon at Black Creek Pioneer Village.  No pictures from the Village here, but lots of memories.  I recall a lot of impromptu insect studies.  An especially large ant, an enormous fly, a hiding spider... little eyes notice little things.  Also, the animals were a big hit.  The kids just love animals.

Speaking of animals, we went to a farm this past weekend for the afternoon, and the kids just gravitated towards the livestock.  As you can see, they enjoyed a donkey ride.  Feeding a horse clumps of grass was also promptly executed by three willing volunteers.  They felt there wasn't enough food for the horse in her yard.  :P  How funny children are.  I am trying my best to sit back and let them "unfold" a bit instead of constantly restraining or checking them.  It's also part of me trying to understand them.  Each child is a huge puzzle to me.  Why does one adore horses while the other is ga-ga over tractors?  Each is so different, yet they share many similarities as well.  (I may never get the hang of this parenting thing!)



I love these monkeys!  Gotta love a good tire swing.  This one reminded me of those old fashioned swings that swing out the barn door into the sky beyond!  It actually does swing out the door, and while I have been trying to let the kids "unfold", I wasn't ready for a broken arm.  So, we kept it tame.  Plenty of time for them to discover the joys of jumping from the hayloft on a tire swing on their own.  For now, they enjoyed the swinging without the jumping.  :)

I've been stumped as to what project to pick up next.  I've been teaching a bit of crocheting to one of the kids, so I have a dishcloth I'd like to finish off, but I have no idea what to do next.  A quilt feels like a wonderful project to start!  But I am simultaneously gravitating towards the paints.  Oh I feel the pull of those colours - silent, strong, relentless.  Or maybe they both need a turn together?  Ah, I am making myself dizzy.  Tomorrow is another day to decide.  In the meantime, I have a few printing and laminating jobs to finish.  And there's that pegboard that needs to go up...  (oh, housework, how I love thee...)



This post has been a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  Sort of what life is like for me I guess.  Lots of ups and downs.  Lately a few downs.  :(  I don't particularly enjoy them, though I see their merit once I've passed through the tunnel.  What seems to help most is staying busy.   I actually made some vegan burgers the other day.  I think they were good, but could benefit from a little tweaking.  You know that feeling?  When you know you're on to something good, but it's just not there yet?  Ya, that.

Oh, and when did this darling 3 year old get so big?  Just edible.  Except when she's whining.  Then she drives me nuts!  Just my luck that she's got this "whine-y" voice thing going.  We're working on that - for MY sanity more than anything else!

Wishing you a sunny, warm and relaxing weekend!

29 July 2016

Goodness


Yesterday we were at the park - it was sometime in the evening.  M was blowing bubbles, J was swinging on the swings and I was sitting on the grass with baby M.  S came over and wanted to swing, but there were no more swings free.  The next time I looked over, J had gotten off her swing and was trying to lift S up to sit on it.  (I had to help with this step.)  Then, she happily pushed her for what seemed like a very long time.  They were laughing and playing as they went.  It was the most heartwarming and beautiful scene and I'm almost positive my heart swelled two sizes bigger.  Amidst all the evil in the news - all that suffering - this scene of a little girl happily sharing her swing with her younger sister was such a bright ray of hope.  Truly, God made man good and for goodness!  

"Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure and whether it be right." (Prov 20:11) 



We have had many lazy summer days together so far.  Lots of Saturdays spent in the park with the BBQ, great food and lots of sand and sun.  Getting to the park requires a bit of work, sometimes a little rush for last minute items.  Once we arrive though, everything melts away into a lazy summer day.  Complete with lounging kids and an afternoon siesta.  Well, maybe not an actual nap, but at least some time digesting.  (Kids have crazy amounts of energy that someone needs to find a way to bottle up for the rest of us!)  And here you can see baby M enjoying the delight that is ice cream.  She loved the corn on the cob too.  



The kids also enjoyed a church festival too earlier this month.  As if you couldn't tell from those faces...



I mentioned our new routine in my last post.  It has solidified somewhat over the past weeks and I believe we are actually enjoying it!  It's not a perfect system - still some tweaking to do I think.  I am actually trying to work more on NOT having to stay on them to finish something.  I hate nagging, and I'm sure they do too.  I saw this fantastic system and I am trying to find a way to make it myself.  The kids would love it, if not for ease of use than its simple beauty.  Hopefully in the next few weeks I can finish it so we have some time to use it before school starts.

As for other projects, I am currently working on some tea towel toppers.  I don't have much energy these days to really delve into projects.  D has been working overtime a lot and being on my own with the kids has really depleted my energy levels.  ;)  However, last night J asked me sweetly to make her something.  So there you have it.  Another project!  It's actually a joy to make stuff for these darlings.

Wishing you a wonderful Family Day weekend!  (And can I just say how much I love the sound of "Family Day"!?)

15 July 2016

Catch-up!



They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Given how neglectful I've been of this space, I figure these photos will do a better job than my words.  

In case you don't know, homemade raw butter is a real treat!  The kids love making butter from the spring and summer milk.  It's so vibrant (almost neon!) compared to the winter milk.  Sorry my photo is too dark to tell.  Anyhow, very cool.  And delicious!  










Since summer has begun, we have been adjusting to new routines.  I do prefer the times where we are all together, working, playing, discovering and just being alongside each other.  However, this year has been harder adjusting than I remember.  I seem to have a hard time putting my foot down and actively creating order and respect.  This is a bit of an adjustment for me, but we are making progress. 


Our summer routine is rooted in home life.  Thanks to some advice from a dear friend, I have recently changed the rhythm of our mornings.  We start our day with prayer, then breakfast.  Breakfast is a family affair where we all prepare breakfast, set the table and then sit down to eat.  I started reading the Prologue to the children during breakfast - it keeps them from squabbling and we learn about the lives of the saints for each day.  This is a great blessing.  They love hearing the lives of the saints - each has several favourites they regularly demand to hear!  I must say though that D does the best Bible stories.  What can I say?  He has a gift!  

After breakfast, we clean up.  Someone washes the dishes, another washes and wipes the table, another .  Then we start our work for the day.  Each day has its own work- usually it includes at least one chore for each person.  I anticipate at least another couple of weeks before the routine solidifies for us all.  (Fingers crossed!)



M has developed allergies - he was quite miserable this past May.  Thankfully, the past few weeks have been much better.  I hope I'm not speaking too soon though, because this morning he was complaining that his eyes were bothering him again.  :(





On the long weekend we picked peas at a local farm with some family and friends.  That's always a favourite activity with the kids.  Afterwards we went for a walk in old Unionville and then ice cream at the Old Firehall Confectionary.  It was S's birthday that weekend too, so now we have a 3 year old at home.  We got her a balance bike and I managed to finish her a messenger bag.  (She was long overdue...)  We were skeptical that she would get anything out of it, but I have to say that bike gets a ton of use.  Everywhere we go, the bike comes.  I have to say it was the best investment we've made this summer!  :)    



 Of course, can't forget about the Toronto FC game this kids got to attend!  This is about the only shot I got.  We got so into the game that I forgot about the camera.   It was great!  (Yes, Sophia the doll comes everywhere with us.)


That was a cake I made last month.  A cream cheese stuffed banana chocolate chip coffee cake.  It's as good as it sounds.  And filling enough that one slice was enough for me.  Here is the recipe.  (You're welcome!)

I wish you a sunny weekend!  

25 May 2016

A few firsts

We had a delicious long weekend visiting our dear family.  It was full to the brim of goodness.  And lots of firsts.  First time milking a cow, first time riding a pony, first time mucking out stalls, first time travelling by night.  For the record, all our firsts turned out to be wonderful experiences.  (Whew!)


   
By the way, raw milk is everything it's cracked up to be and more!  It's so creamy and rich and delicious!  Tastes different than the store bought kind, even the 3%.  And when you're the one who's milked the cow, you know pretty much all you need to know about your milk.  :)  The kids drank lots of milk.  They even had homemade frozen yogurt.  Yum!  I think that was one of S's favourite parts.  




This my farmer boy.  And what a funny sight for me as I find that usually he won't go near the source of any bad odours.  Not so here.  Did I mention how much I want a farm?  A mama can dream.  Although the bug situation was absolutely incredible!  So many bugs!  Flies, mosquitoes, you name it!  All around.  All the time.  Poor M got eaten alive. 


My equestrian children.  They couldn't get enough rides.  I think they must have ridden for at least an hour.  Enough for me to put the baby to bed and take a nap myself.


With all the fresh air, space and love, the kids were really in heaven.  My heart was so full there.  We all seem to find a sort of inner rest in Panagia's garden.  

We drove back during the night and the kids conked out for at least the last 2 hours.  And I must admit I did too.  Thank goodness D was our trusty driver.  He never disappoints.  I feel blessed to have him around so much.  

Hope you had a lovely weekend too!

20 May 2016

Little scientists



So, those dandelions from last week?  They spoiled.  I should've known they needed to be fully covered with oil, but no, a few heads did poke out.  And now we must needs start over.  Good thing there are still plenty of dandelions around!  But goodness, I feel so scatterbrained these days.  (Or maybe I've always been that way and I'm only seeing it now at last?)

A few messy things taken care of and now I can focus on the shopping part of my list.  The biggest item is a new bike for J.  She is patiently waiting, though I hope to surprise her before next week when the weather gets much nicer.  My kids do love riding their bikes anywhere they can.  And because it's getting ridiculous trying to fit three bikes and a stroller in our trunk, we're on the lookout for a decent bike rack.  :)



We are hoping to plant some tomatoes next week.  It may have to be a little later, because, of course, schedules have a way of getting ridiculously busy all of a sudden.  And that's ok.  The plants are already growing in their cosy pots, so we have some time.  I love spring.



This past week we learned that pine cones can help predict the weather.  They close when it's going to rain and open if not.  This is to guard the seeds inside the pine cone, of course.  It has to do with the moisture in the air.  We put one in a cup of water and it closed in about 5-10 minutes.  And then we set it on the window sill and the next morning it was open!  The little ones just LOVED it! Fascinating stuff these pine cones.  M took one to school for a class demonstration.  If you've never done it, it's so worth it just to see the kids faces light up with wonder.



I think the next thing we need to research are ants.  They are fascinating to little eyes and hands.  Here the kids are making a mountain for the ants.  They actually buried a colony they found and just kept building "ant mountain" upwards.  They even dug a trench around it.  Perhaps we shall even get to medieval castle building if there's time...  

Wishing you many such adventures with little scientists to keep you young at heart.

10 May 2016

The best things in life are free





Life has changed so much since two months ago.  Baby M is not sleeping as well as she used to, so I get wakened up at least a couple times each night.  It's ok.  For some reason, could be that rosebud mouth or those cheeks, it doesn't bother me.  Also, my body seems to be able to function remarkably well with less sleep.  This is great news to me.  I don't ever remember feeling like this with the other three.  In fact, I often grew cranky being woken up so much at night.  Can only guess why it's not the same with this little lady.  Perhaps it took that long for me to understand or absorb an important truth: this too shall pass, and that precious baby will be grown up by tomorrow.

We went to the park this week almost every day after school.  The weather was beautiful and we all just ached to be outdoors.  :)  Once while we were there, I brought a bag and we picked dandelions.  There are so many of them in the fields and along the roads.  Even next to a small forest we found the ground just littered with golden blossoms.  Our picking didn't even make a dent in their numbers.  We are infusing them right now and are hoping to use the oil later in salves and soaps.



Anyhow.  The one bad thing I'm noticing is that I seem to have my sweet tooth back in full force.  To the extent that I know it can't be good for me to eat all that sugar.  After having exercised a little will-power during Lent, you'd think it'd be easy afterwards.  Not so.  I am in need of more "no sweets" periods.  Always found it easier to go cold turkey that be moderately restrictive.  Again, I puzzle as to why!  This bothers me because I have babies to take care of, and sugar robs me of needed energy.  Also, I can't fit my old clothes and I can't bring myself to buy new ones.  Catch 22.  Something's gotta give, I suppose.  I shan't give up though.  My body feels better with less sugar!



I am working on a few projects, lots of summer time activities for the kids.  And shopping.  J needs a new bike, D needs some clothes, a few gifts need buying.  Trouble is, I don't have the TIME for all that AND housekeeping.  Sometimes it's nice to have a helping hand.  I was so happy that M helped make pancakes Saturday morning.  To be fair, I had to be right there with him, and I ended up frying them.  However, we are on a path that will end with him relatively self-sufficient in the kitchen!  He really enjoys working with his hands so far.  Loves to build, construct and dismantle.  Very interested in how things work.  Only recently has he started asking why they work a certain way or what makes them function so.  That is an exciting journey since it opens up a whole new world to both of us.  Yesterday he finished building a model 4-cylinder gasoline engine.  We are learning the mechanics of this together.  Really cool stuff I tell you!  :)

And we are fast becoming a musical family.  The kids are humming, chirping and just singing all the time!  Catch them playing alone and they're usually singing a new tune.  I think it's the weather.  The change in seasons, more vitamin D, more physical activity... whatever it is.  I love it.  And I hope it's a herald of the coming days.